In a criminal or civil court case (where the case has not been dismissed, settled, or vacated), judgment will be rendered. This ruling can be delivered as a jury verdict or as a judgment by the presiding judge. The ruling represents the trial court’s application of the law. An appeal, on the other hand, is a review of this legal application by an appellate (appeals) court. Once the appellate court rules, it will be either in favor of the original lower court ruling or in favor of the party who filed the appeal. Here’s how the process plays out for criminal or civil appeals and what an appellate court ruling can mean:
What is an Appeal?
When a party involved in a lower court civil or criminal case does not prevail (essentially, losing their case), they normally have the right to appeal the decision by having an appeal attorney file for certiorari. This is the court process seeking judicial review of the lower court’s ruling.
An appeal can serve as a review process that can identify lower court errors. It can also be part of the process for interpreting or clarifying applicable law, including legal precedent.
Unlike the lower court, where a single judge presides, a criminal or civil appeals court will have multiple judges – three or more, depending on the jurisdiction – involved in the review. On larger appellate courts, which can seat as many as a few dozen judges, appeals are often heard by panels of three. Rarely, an “en banc” rehearing of the case is held, resulting in a new decision. Much more commonly, in smaller criminal and civil appeals cases, the processing of an appeal results in either the lower court’s judgment being upheld or not upheld by the appellate judges.
Does Upholding the Appeal Mean I Won?
Once the case is accepted and the grounds for the appeal are considered, the appeals court can rule either in support of the lower court’s decision or in support of the appeal. If “the appeal is not upheld,” this means the ruling of the lower court is allowed to stand and the appeal has been denied. Otherwise, “the appeal is upheld,” meaning the appeal has been successful and the lower court ruling is set aside. In other words, the party who filed the appeal won their appeal.
What happens then? In most cases, the appellate court will remand (send) the criminal or civil appeals case back to the original trial court with instructions governing corrections to be made regarding any errors. If those errors “tainted the verdict,” the appellate court could order a new trial. Rarely, the appellate court could also set aside the initial lower court judgment and dismiss the case altogether.
What does it mean when an appeal is upheld? It means the party who filed for relief in the appellate court successfully pled and won their case. Here are some important things to remember regarding the appeals process:
- Criminal and civil appeals are normally a legal right for lower court litigants who did not prevail or win their case
- An appeal is a review by an appellate (appeals) court of a lower court ruling
- To put an appeal in motion, an appeal attorney will file for certiorari
- An appeals court can have three or more judges considering the lower court’s process and ruling
- If the appeal is not upheld, the appellate court has decided to let the lower court ruling stand; on the other hand, if the appeal is upheld, the appealing party has prevailed and the lower court’s ruling is set aside, often with the case being remanded back to the lower court to fix errors or retry the case
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., our attorneys draw on decades of collective experience when handling civil cases, including cases where civil appeals might be necessary. To learn more, contact us today at (317) 972–8000.
We believe that being an educated legal consumer can help you make the most of the legal experience in meeting your legal objectives. This blog post, for example, provides general educational material regarding civil appeals. This information is presented by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who practice throughout the State of Indiana. It is not a solicitation, nor is it intended to provide specific legal advice. It is an advertisement. Information contained herein is subject to change.